Highlights from the Ethnomusicology Archive in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15) celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of United States citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.  National Hispanic Heritage Month had its origins in 1968 when Congress passed Pub. L. 90-498,  which authorized and requested the President to issue an annual proclamation designating the week including September 15 and 16 as National Hispanic Heritage Week; in 1988, it was expanded to National Hispanic Heritage Month.  September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.  Mexico celebrates their independence day on September 16.  Chile celebrates their independence day on September 18.  Día de la Raza (or Día de la Hispanidad), which is October 12, also falls within this 30-day period.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, I thought I would highlight some of the Archive's collections from the Americas.  There seemed no better place to begin than with UCLA Ethnomusicology's own Music of Mexico ensemble. The UCLA Music of Mexico ensemble was founded in 1961 by UCLA Ethnomusicology graduate student Donn Borcherdt, making it one of the first mariachi groups to be formed in an academic university setting.  The influence of UCLA Ethnomusicology's mariachi is well-known and has been documented by scholars in both Mexico and the USA.  From 1989 to 2000, the legendary Nati Cano (1933-2014) (1990 NEA National Heritage Fellow) led the ensemble. 


UCLA Ethnomusicology Spring Festival of World Music: Music of Mexico (1999)

As I mentioned, Donn Borcherdt (d. 1967) founded the Music of Mexico ensemble and the Archive holds his fieldwork.  Borcherdt was a composer and pianist, receiving his B.A. from UCLA in composition and conducting.  He began his graduate studies in ethnomusicology in 1956,  earning his M.A. in 1962.  Borcherdt conducted fieldwork in California (Armenian and Armenian American folk music) in 1956, in Jalisco, Mexico in 1960, 1961, 1963-1964 and in Chile in 1966-1967.  His publications include "Armenian Folk Music in the Los Angeles and Fresno Areas," Western Folklore (1959), as well as several book reviews.  Borcherdt also hosted a weekly radio program, "Many Worlds of Music," in 1960-1962, on KPFK in Los Angeles.  In addition to his fieldwork (recordings, photos, field notes), the Archive also holds his in-progress doctoral dissertation.

Conjunto Huasteco - Art Gerst, Donn Borcherdt, Robert Saxe (c. 1961)

Linda Lee O'Brien-Rothe did her fieldwork in Guatemala in support of her doctoral dissertation, "Songs of the face of the earth: ancestor songs of the Tzutuhil-Maya of Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala" (1975).  Her most recent publication is Songs That Make the Road Dance: Courtship and Fertility Music of the Tz'utujil Maya (University of Texas Press, 2015).  This book presents a representative selection of the more than ninety songs in O’Brien-Rothe’s collection, including musical transcriptions and over two thousand lines presented in Tz’utujil and English translation. (Audio files of the songs can be downloaded from the UT Press website.)


Los Condores, Music of the Andes Student Group, with Dale Olsen (group leader) playing flute and Linda O'Brien playing guitar, from "A World of Music" (1972)

Dale Olsen did his fieldwork in Venezuela in support of his dissertation "Music and shamanism of the Winikina-Warao Indians: songs for curing and other theurgy" (1973).  Olsen has an extensive c.v. that includes Music of the Warao of Venezuela: Song People of the Rain Forest (University Press of Florida, 1996).  Check out photos and a variety of audio samples of his fieldwork, here.

As you might imagine, the Archive has a fair number of fieldwork recordings from South America, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.  Please visit the Archive to learn more about our holdings. 

Here is a sampling...

Collector: Borcherdt, Donn; Geographic Area: Chile; Dates: 1966-1967; Collection Number: 8102-8123; Description: Folk music, festivals and instrumental and vocal music

Collector: Borcherdt, Donn; Geographic Area: Mexico; Dates: 1960-1964; Collection Number: 8004-8101; Description: Field recordings made in Mexico, primarily in Jalisco, Huasteca, Jarocho, Michoacan and Guerrero. Also includes recordings of Mexican music in Los Angeles.

Collector: Bruman, Henry; Geographic Area: Mexico; Dates: 1938; Collection Number: 5624; Description: Music of Guadalajara; Huichol music, violin and guitar

Collector: Courlander, Harold; Geographic Area: South America & the Caribbean; Dates: 19?? [Courlander, b.1908 – d.1996]; Collection Number: 85.1; Description: Consists of recordings from the African Diaspora including Haiti, Jamaica, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Brazil, Colombia and Puerto Rico.

Collector: Davis, Martha Ellen; Geographic Area: Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago; Dates: 1960s; Collection Number: 87.1; Description: Music of Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago

Collector: Feldman, Heidi; Geographic Area: Peru, South America; Dates: 2000; Collection Number: ARVT 214-217; Description: Afro-Peruvian music and dance

Collector: Furlong, Charles Willington; Geographic Area: South America; Dates: 1907-1908; Collection Number: 5262; Description: Tierra del Fuego, Fuegian songs

Collector: Grebe, Maria Ester; Geographic Area: Chile, South America; Dates: 1954; Collection Number: 5211-5212; Description: Songs of Chile

Collector: Harding, Tim; Geographic Area: Mexico; Dates: 1967; Collection Number: 8020, 8023, 5456; Description: Music from Michoacan, Veracruz, Saliterio and Marimba

Collector: Hawkins, Richard; Geographic Area: Chile; Dates: 1967; Collection Number: 93.1; Description: Music from La Tirana, Chile

Collector: Horspool, Glen Arvel; Geographic Area: Guatemala; Dates: 1977-1978; Collection Number: Collection 82.2; Description: Music of the Quiché Indians of Momostenango, Guatemala

Collector: Lumholtz, Karl; Geographic Area: Mexico; Dates: 1898; Collection Number: 12025-1 and 12025-2; Description: Music from Jalisco and Huichol

Collector: McCosker, Sandra; Geographic Area: Panama; Dates: 1970; Collection Number: 72.1; Description: The Lullabies of the San Blas Cuna Indians of Panama,

Collector: McLean, Andrew; Geographic Area: Ecuador, South America; Dates: 1994; Collection Number: 12067; Description: Ayahuasca curing songs performed by Luis Murialdo and Jaime Cerda

Collector: Nketia, J.H. Kwabena; Geographic Area: South America, Brazil; Dates: 1981; Collection Number: 5620-5622; Description: Contem o programa: Song of the Mind a Black Evening, Instruments voix et musique, Chasons Mawutaniennes and La Musique Saracolle

Collector: Paret-Limardo de Vela, Lise; Geographic Area: Guatemala; Dates: 1962; Collection Number: 2003.2; Description: Music of the Cakchiquel, Tzutuhil and Quiché Maya of the central highlands

Collector: Ramon y Rivera, Luis Felipe; Geographic Area: Venezuela; Dates: 1966; Collection Number: 5149; Description: Corridos; Spanish folksongs

Collector: Tompkins, William D.; Geographic Area: Peru; Dates: 1970s; Collection Number: 2005.1; Description: Afro-Peruvian music

Collector: Walters, Mildred; Geographic Area: Mexico and Guatemala; Dates: 1952; Collection Number: 8000 - 8003; Description: Music of Oaxaca, Quadrille and Chiapas Mexico; Music of Quiche, Guatemala


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